Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving and Contentment

"The voice of the special rebels and prophets, recommending discontent, should, as I have said, sound now and then suddenly, like a trumpet. But the voices of the saints and sages, recommending contentment, should sound unceasingly, like the sea." – G.K. Chesterton

Contentment - an elusive quality, and, for many, one that seems to fly in the face of our modern culture, in which we are ever urged to ambition and the accumulation of status symbols like new cars and bigger houses, bigger advances and better royalty percentages. Some would perhaps argue that contentment is a vice, not a virtue. Yet the scriptures advise that we seek it. The apostle Paul even goes as far as to say that “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). He says he has “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” (Phil.4:12).

I suspect a good part of that secret is being thankful. I suspect being thankful is the key to a lot of things in our lives.

I once spoke at a women's retreat in a tiny town in Alaska. There were over 200 women there from all across the state and the Yukon. Friday night was testimony time. One woman in particular touched me as she shared how her entire family had died, one by one, of Tuberculosis. When she was taken to hospital she knew she was dying but asked God to heal her. She said God responded in these words, "Give thanks before you receive." So she did. She lay in her bed for hours, through the night, thanking him for her life. Then she got out of bed, something she hadn't been able to do for days. When the doctor came that morning she told him she was healed. They took x-rays. Then they took them again. Then they sent her home.

"Give thanks before you receive." We do it before meals; why not do it before everything? Before getting out of bed, give thanks; before dropping your kids at school, give thanks; before driving to work, give thanks; before participating in the office gossip, give thanks; before blaming your spouse for all his/her failings, give thanks.

I suspect such a routine would indeed result in great contentment and great gain, perhaps in more ways than we could imagine.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hope is a Dimension of Light

It had been a long grey day in a long grey week. The new chemotherapy drug they had said would be easier wasn't. It knocked me to the ground then stomped on me until every bone ached. I was seriously thinking about canceling the next dose. I didn't think I could do it.

Then, late one afternoon, I opened my eyes. A thin beam of light had pushed through the clouds, through my living room window, and along a slim tendril growing out of my small Spider plant. The tendril had looked so fragile as it reached out, pale and oh so thin. But when that beam of light touched it, it began to glow. Then the light illuminated the tiny white flowers that had just bloomed. The flowers glowed in that light. It took my breath away. And hope blossomed. I managed to get up off the couch and find my camera. It took a few tries to get a picture that wasn't blurry. But I managed to steady my hands and do it.

Hope. At that moment it was a living dimension - a shaft of real light that slipped into my living room along that tendril of plant at just at the right moment. At just the right moment God reminded me that He was here, watching, waiting with me and smiling as he made that tiny flower glow.

"When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

The light of life, the light of hope. It's Him. Jesus Himself. Right here. Right now.